It's the age of Samuel Pepys and the Great Fire of London, bawdy comedy and the libertine court of Charles II, Christopher Wren in architecture, Henry Purcell in music and Isaac Newton in science. In The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain, Ian Mortimer answers the crucial questions that a prospective traveller to 17th-century Britain would ask.
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By Kirstine on 21-09-17
Informative, interesting and entertaining history
I greatly enjoyed the author’s Time Traveller Guide to the Medieval England and am glad to say that this guide to the latter part of the 17th Century, following the restoration of King Charles II, is equally engaging. The author has a lively style of writing well-suited to narration and this period of history is full of events and changes in society that make it a fertile source of material.
The author has collected a mass of personal stories that enable one to imagine what life was like. It’s remarkable just how much written material there is from this period, not least Samuel Pepys diaries which provide some of the colourful details, but he was not alone in keeping detailed accounts of the life and times.
Most accounts of history focus on monarchies, wars and major events, whereas this book also gives a lot of details of daily life: what work people did, what they ate, wore, how they got rid of bodily waste and managed when they were ill. The book is redolent with the smells and sounds of the time. There are interesting facts about what life was like in the different strata of society from the fabulously wealthy to the desperately poor.
The narrator does an excellent job.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
By phil on 19-09-17
Immersive history of a much puffed up era
Mortimer has a thamaturigal gift for transporting us back in time, it's as if we walk the streets. although grim, he forcibly disabuses myths of their being unhygienic. it largely boils down to their having different ideas eg miasma (bad smells) rather than bacteria. points such as this reinforce our reflections on how we'd behave.
Although I struggle to find much sympathy within me for the persons who make up the greater part of this book, Mortimer has given me cause for revaluation. The likes of Pepys and Evelyn are shown most humanely, their foibles enliven them. We hear much a do Pepys debauchery with maids, unfortunately this was an age of great legal inequality so neither the women nor his wife could protest. We have much occasion to reflect on whether we'd have been much different, this is a theme Mortimer is very good across his three time travellers books and his centuries of change.
There's more hard facts than one gets with say Ruth Goodman or Lucy Worsley; these do not disrupt the flow.
layback, eyes closed and imagine your self transported
11 of 11 people found this review helpful